The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries have reported that the number of rhino killed for their horn in South Africa dropped to 594 in 2019, compared to 769 killed nationally in 2018. While it is encouraging to see these figures drop, the war is far from over.

Andrew Campbell, CEO, Game Rangers’ Association Africa released this statement, “We must applaud the rangers and those dedicated people who support them for the work they do at the forefront of the rhino poaching onslaught. There is no doubt that their blood, sweat and tears have helped contribute to this decline in rhino carcasses year on year in South Africa.

In my line of work, I’ve been lucky enough to meet many of these extraordinary people who have dedicated the last decade to ensure we still have rhinos left. Their work continues to inspire me. They face enormous odds working against organised criminal syndicates in a harrowing environment that unfortunately includes being undermined by corrupt individuals. Sadly, we continue to lose rhino at unsustainable levels.

South Africa has reported almost 8500 rhino carcasses since 2008. If we account for undetected carcasses, loss in breeding potential and calves that die in utero the real impact on rhino populations has been far greater than this. Whilst it grabs the headlines, as rangers we understand that success should not only be measured by a drop in rhino carcasses year on year. There are many other factors to consider including incursion rates, follow up successes, arrests, successful prosecutions and of course ultimately the most important statistic – are rhino populations starting to grow at a sustainable rate? Until this is achieved the battle to save the rhino is far from over. In many ways we have just begun.”

Ranger Protect would like to thank all those rangers who put their lives at risk while protecting our natural heritage and for their dedication in ensuring these numbers continue to fall.

To read Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries full press release click here

Image by Peter Chadwick at African Conservation Photography